by Omope Carter Daboiku

Omope Carter Daboiku is a wordsmith, actress and storyteller based in Dayton and Cincinnati. A folklorist with specialties in African, Affrilachian, Appalachian, and Native American, Omope designs curriculum and programming that reflects global consciousness and cultural appreciation. [Note: the photo above is the “Perceptions of Home” exhibit that is set up at the Appalachian Festival.]

The year is nearly half over as we turn our sights to blooms and hay fever. Nevertheless, we have cause to celebrate as the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition prepares to host the 41st gathering of the Appalachian Studies Association. The 2018 ASA Conference will be held at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, with additional venues downtown, in Over-The-Rhine, and in neighborhoods that showcase projects that address the conference’s six major themes: migration, health and wellness, education, economic development, environment sustainability, and diversity and inclusion. There will be many ways for the community to be involved. Volunteers will be essential to a smooth experience here in the Queen City, and we need YOU! .

We can also celebrate May as “Appalachian Culture Month,” established by City Council back in the 1970’s when our beloved Steward Francie Pepper and the Junior League of Cincinnati presented the very first Appalachian Festival at Music Hall. Since those days, the Appalachian community, advocates, artisans, musicians, curious customers, and families of all kinds have enjoyed gathering on the grounds of Cincinnati’s historic, river-side amusement park affectionately named Coney Island – or locally just called “Coney” – for its Opening Day this weekend coming – always Mother’s Day weekend.

An iconic event that always includes UACC, it’s a full weekend of enjoyable, downhome experience with familiar smells, the sounds of string music and stories carried on the river wind. Produced by the Appalachian Community Development Association (ACDA), the festival has become a mainstay for Urban Appalachians and provides a cultural bridge for multiple generations; we often see three-generation families coming through, headed for their favorite treat or to watch the dancers and drummers at the Native American Circle in the Pioneer Village. For more information about gate fees and performance schedules, go to www.appalachianfestival.org.

Stop by the UACC table, chat with our Stewards about upcoming events and learn more about the ASA Conference and how you can support. Put your dot on our UACC Migration Map that marks the home towns we represent within the 13 states and 8 Ohio counties acknowledged as Appalachia. Although Cincinnati is outside the geographical boundaries, it was an urban destination for many looking for manufacturing work that stretched up the old Ohio & Erie Canal bed, now Interstate 75, to Fairfield, Hamilton, Middletown, Dayton, Tipp City, Wapakoneta, Lima, Toledo and on to Detroit. UACC’s Research Committee has documented that over 40% of Cincinnati’s current population has ties to Appalachia.

Visit www.uacvoice.org for more details about pre-conference activities with poetry readings, writing workshops, literary salons, teacher workshops and school residencies. Public events during the April 2018 ASA Conference may include movie premiere, tavern dinner and entertainment venues, and more!

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